On 15 October 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that the Dutch government has revised its licensing policy for exports of military-related items to Turkey. This policy covers both military items within the meaning of the EU Common Military List and dual-use items in case of a military end-use. The changes were announced in a letter to Dutch Parliament (available here, in Dutch).

The revised policy relaxes the very strict policy that has been applicable as of October 2019. Under that policy, which was adopted in response to Turkish military operations in North East Syria, all current and new licence applications for exports of military-related items destined for Turkey were suspended until further notice, subject to limited exceptions.

Under the revised policy, such licence applications are processed again. The Minister has however announced that the authorities will apply a “very strict” presumption of denial. This means that a licence will only be granted where it is “indisputable” that the items will not be used in North East Syria.

Any applications will furthermore be assessed against the criteria listed in the EU Common Position 2008/944/CFSP, which defines an EU framework of common rules governing exports of military items. The letter mentions the current arms embargo against Libya, regional stability and potential use in South East Turkey as particular relevant circumstances in this respect.

Applications that are necessary for the Netherlands to comply with its international obligations towards the EU, NATO and other intergovernmental organisations are exempt from the above presumption. These will however be assessed against the EU Common Position.

Licence applications for exports of military-related items to Turkey are hence being processed again, but exporters will need to show solid proof of the proposed legitimate end-use of the items in practice.


Derk advises clients on a wide variety of EU, regulatory and competition law matters, including merger control, cartels and vertical agreements. In addition, he advises and assists clients with respect to compliance and enforcement issues relating to EU and Dutch export controls, trade laws and sanctions. Derk has further acted for clients in various compliance investigations, both internally and involving government authorities.


Christiaan's practice focuses on competition law and international trade law. He has significant experience in advising on a range of competition law issues, including cartels, abusive conduct of dominant undertakings and merger control. He acts for complainants and defendants in investigations, and represents clients in merger control proceedings before the Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) and EU Commission. Christiaan is also seasoned in dealing with EU export control and trade compliance matters, including dawn raid assistance, conducting internal audits and defending clients in investigations by regulatory authorities.